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red, lesser, panda, bear, bears, pandas

The small, tree dwelling Red Panda is growing in popularity, and can be found in about 60 zoos around the world. Red Pandas are on the endangered species list. In total there is only an estimated 2,500 - 10,000 left in the wild. Poaching for their hides and habitat erosion, are the key threats to their future.

Red Pandas are native to China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Tibet. They are nocturnal, feeding from dusk to dawn. Their diet is primarily bamboo leaf tips and tender shoots. They also eat fruits, grasses, eggs, mushrooms, nuts, insects and grubs in small amounts. On occasion they will eats birds and small mammals. Like the Giant Panda, they have a modified wrist bone, which acts somewhat similar to an opposing thumb, so they can tear and shred bamboo.

Did you Know? Red Panda Ranger is a title given to kids who spread the word about red pandas.

While the Red Panda is often referred to as a "cousin" to the Giant Panda, they are not related. Contrary to what some people believe, they are not related to raccoons either. In actuality, they are in their own "Ailuridae" family, which has no other members.

Red Pandas are excellent climbers. They climb down trees head first. They use trees for shelter, to escape predators, and even to sunbathe in the winter. In very cold weather, the red panda will go dormant.

Adults weigh 9-13 pounds, and are about 22-24 inches long. The long tail adds an additional 15-18'. Normally red pandas are loners, except during the mating season. The female usually has 2 cubs, weighing just 3 to 4 ounces, and covered with fur for warmth. Their life span is 20-23 years.

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